tv Morning Joe MSNBC May 12, 2017 3:00am-6:01am PDT
. >> when you receive a report that is so clear and a recommendation by someone like the deputy attorney general, you have no choice but to act. >> president trump made the right decision at the right time. to accept the recommendation of the deputy attorney general and the attorney general, to ask for the termination, to support the termination of the director of the fbi. because of the actions that the deputy attorney general outlined to the president that were endorsed and agreed with by the attorney general. the president made the right decision at the right time. >> this is the action a president takes when he is told by the deputy attorney general who has only been on the job for 14 days, he took a new assessment, a new look at everything. >> did you ask for a recommendation? >> what i did is i was going to fire comey, my decision. >> you had made the decision
before they came -- >> i was going to fire comey. there's no good time to do it, by the way. >> because in your letter you said i accepted their recommendations. you had already made the decision. >> i was going to fire regardless of recommendation. >> in one stunning interview with nbc news, president trump kneecaped his resignation, completely contradicting his communication staff and raising the real possibility that the russia investigation was top of mind when he abruptly fired the man in charge of carrying it out. joe, before we launch the show this morning, frame out what weave seen over the past 24 hours. >> well, yesterday during the show we had said that it seemed obvious that what the white house had told us the day before, those lies had been burned off by noon. yesterday, forget burning off, the president, in sitting down with lester holt completely blew
wide open every excuse, every distraction, every lie put forward by this white house and this president. you had, as you said, the president of the united states making every one of his spokes people out to be liars. sean spicer was made out to be a liar, kellyanne conway, made out by the president to be a liar, sarah huckabee sanders made out on this show by the president of the united states to be a liar. and most dam damning, vice president mike pence on capitol hill seven times not telling the truth to reporters based on perhaps what the president told him or maybe he just wasn't telling the truth because, unlike those other three that we mentioned, we know that mike pence was in the room from the very beginning. and then, of course, mika, you've already alluded to what i
think is the bigger story, donald trump and the trump white house has admitted on camera they fired james comey because they wanted to kill the fbi investigation that was reaching into trump's affairs with russian associates. they admitted that on camera. so i don't know what republicans are going to do today on capitol hill that are still foolishly following this man off the cliff. i don't know what conservative talk radio hosts are going to do, how they're going to try to switch the blame. two days ago they were so sad and pathetic when they were trying to blame it on a deputy attorney general. go back and listen to their tapes, listen to the apologists, they took trump's lie, swallowed it hole. he forced them to spit it out. this man ends up making fools of everyone that works around him. so we'll see.
we'll see what happens today. we've got so much news. that's actually just scratching the surface of the corruption and the lies that are entangling this white house and this president. >> kellyanne conway was on a certain black list where you just couldn't believe anything she said anymore. there are now three or four more people on that list. i don't know how the white house operates when you have a team that can't be trusted, that is very clearly lying every step of the way. so along with joe, willie and me we have -- >> mika, you have to say right now, the fish rots from the head. you look at sean spicer, and sean spicer is a guy i've known in politics for a very long time, good guy, trusted guy. he has gone to the white house and shattered his reputation. i've known kellyanne conway for
20, 25 years, she's got to that white house and shattered her reputation. alternative facts. let's talk about rod rosenstein quickly. a guy who for 27 years had a stellar reputation in washington, d.c. think about the thousands and thousands and thousands of hours that man put in building his reputation over three decades in the washington legal community. in one week, donald trump has slimed him. they lied about him. they set him up as the fall guy. he was the patsy. he was the sucker. the question is whether he's going to stick around and put up with it. >> along with joe, willie and me we have executive producer and co-host of the circus on show final, john heilemann, former fbi special agent clint watts, donny deutsch with us, columnist and associate editor for "the washington post" david ignatius and "new york times" reporter
michael schmidt. president trump addressed why the letter to fire comey included the claim that the letter informed him on three separate occasions that he was not under occasion. >> he told me that. >> he told you you weren't under investigation. >> yeah, and i've heard it from others. >> was it in a phone call? was it face-to-face? >> i had dinner with him. he had a nice dinner at the white house. >> he asked for the dinner? >> dinner was arranged. i think he asked for the dinner. he wanted to stay on as the fbi head. i said i'll consider. we'll see what happens. we had a very nice dinner and at that time he told me you are not under investigation. >> did you call him? >> in one case i called him and one case he called me. >> did you ask him am i under investigation? >> i asked him, yes. i said, if it's possible, will you let me know am i under investigation. he said, you are not under
investigation. >> but new reports contradict the president's claims. current and former fbi officials tell nbc that the white house summoned comey to dinner shortly after the inauguration. quote, the president is not correct. the white house called him out of the blue. comey didn't want to do it. he didn't even want the rank and file at the fbi to know about it. the former official added that comey, quote, tried to stay away from the russia investigation telling the president, look, sir, i really can't get into it and you don't want me to. "the new york times" reports at the dinner president trump asked whether comey would pledge his loyalty to him. according to two sources who heard comey's account, the fbi director decliepd to make that pledge and instead told trump that he would always be honest with him, but that he was not reliable in the conventional political sense. the white house pushed back on that description of the dinner
saying the president would never suggest the expectation of personal loyalty but rather loyalty to the country. yesterday lester holt asked the president -- >> who believes that, first of all? >> nobody. >> who believes loyalty to the country. that is a lie, another lie by the white house. mika, i talked to people in the intel community yesterday including some of the top people at the fbi over the past two decades, they tell me in no uncertain terms in realtime james comey came back flummoxed, could not believe what the president had asked him to do. david ignatius, they said it was a flat-out lie, the president was delusional for even saying this and said james comey would have never asked for an extension on his term because he had a ten-year term and he knew he had nothing to worry about. >> joe, this is one of those situations where the worst case
actually seems to be happening, as i wrote this morning in "the washington post." as we've learned that the original account that was given of the firing of comey was an obfuscation of what the president told us himself was his motivation, clearly going back months to get rid of months to get rid of comey and said specifically he was troubled by the made-up russia thing as he put it in his interview with lester holt, we have this crucial account of a dinner and two phone calls that the president appears to have done something which is almost unimaginable, is to seek -- to get the most private details of an investigation that involves him and his campaign staff. the most striking pushback for me yesterday was the acting fbi
director, andrew mccabe, going before the senate intelligence committee and saying no, it is not true, as president trump has said, that james comey was we jekted rejected by his bureau, he gave a tough and pretty convincing account of what's really going on. >> david ignatius, two more lies blown out of the water by andrew mccabe's testimony, one of them was the white house claiming that comey didn't have the confidence of the rank and file of the fbi. that was proven to be a complete and foetal lie by the man appointed by the president to run the fbi. >> and by every fbi agent i can contact. >> every fbi agent. in fact, it's telling, david, donald trump had to cancel his visit to the fbi because he was told the reception would be so harsh. so that tells you there. the second lie that was blown out of the water was the lie
that there was nothing to this russian investigation. donald trump said there's really nothing there. andrew mccabe yesterday testifying before congress saying it's extraordinarily important to the fbi that this investigation continues. >> he made clear what a serious investigation it is. look, james comey was not a perfect fbi director, and there were people within the bureau who were not happy with him. but it's interesting to me that when the president moved on him, moved to sack him, there has been a drawing together of the fbi, whatever divisions there were i think have really eased as people wanted to defend their bureau, its integrity, independence, and feel there was an effort to compromise that independence. >> michael schmidt, you've got the front page story in "the new york times" today about the loyalty pledge that you report out. what specifically was president trump seeking in that dinner
that, as you report, the white house called, james comey didn't call, that contradicts what president trump told lester holt yesterday, what kind of loyalty did he want? did he specifically reference the russia investigation? >> as you remember, comey was appointed by obama back in 2013. it's seven days into his presidency, january 27th, comey gets summoned to the white house. comey doesn't want to go, but he doesn't think he can turn the meeting down. right off the bat, trump goes after the issue of loyalty, signaling to comey that this was the reason he wanted to talk to him. comey side stepped it and said, look, i'll give you my honesty but doesn't give that loyalty approach. trump kept coming back to it. they eventually get to the point where trump says, well, honest loyalty. i don't know if it's true that the issue of the russia investigation came up in that, but it was clear to comey what trump was trying to get from him.
comey didn't want to do it. he was afraid of doing it. his relationship from there deteriorating. what comey's associates say when they look back at this, they say this is pretty crystal clear why this relationship never worked out and why comey was fired. >> as you report, director comey said to donald trump he'd always be honest with him but he was not, quote, reliable in the conventional political sense. clint watts, as you watch this -- you testified before congress about russia about aag. after the last two days, what's your take? >> the direct lies and contradictions. no account that the president puts forward is supported by anyone else. everyone is giving a completely different account, from even the president we say in the interview last night on nbc. when i'm in d.c. and talking to friends and colleagues, no one hears the same thing. this dinner has been in the rumor mill for a couple months and it's been astounding that
the president doesn't understand that the fbi director is supposed to be impartial, he's there on a ten-year term, he can wade through these political pressures should they arise. the president goes right at those political pressures and undue influence on investigations. it's astounding to anyone regardless of your politics. >> astounding in so many ways. president trump flatly contradicted what the vice president and multiple white house employees claimed about russia having no role in the decision to fire comey. now here is the white house message over the past few days. take a look. >> why specifically did president trump fire fbi director james comey? >> i think it's real simple here. the deputy attorney general, a guy who has a stellar reputation was just confirmed 94-6, across the board has the respect of democrats, republicans, people in the justice department, made a very strong recommendation,
thement followed it. >> this absolutely has nothing to do with any investigation into russia. >> this has nothing to do with russia. it has everything to do with whether the current fbi director has the president's confidence. >> intelligence officials have said there's investigation into potential ties between campaign officials and russian officials. >> that's not what this is about. the president took strong and decisive leadership here to put the safety and security of the american people first. >> what about the president's dissatisfaction with the russian probe, did that play into this, sir? >> let me be very clear that the president's decision to accept the recommendation of the deputy attorney general and the attorney general to remove director comey as the head of the fbi was based solely and exclusively on his commitment to the best interests of the american people.
>> all right. compare that to what the president told lester holt. >> regardless of recommendation i was going to fire comey, knowing there was no good time to do it. in fact, when i decided to just do it, i said to myself, i said, you know, this russia thing with trump and russia is a made-up story, it's an excuse by the democrats for having lost an election. >> just to clarify one thing you said. the president has encouraged this investigation into russia, he wants to see it reach its completion sooner rather than later. how is he encouraging it if he just fired the man who is overseeing the investigation? >> there are multiple people, not just the fbi, the house committee, the senate committee. the point is we want this to come to its conclusion, come to its conclusion with integrity. we think by director comey, we've taken steps to make that happen. thanks so much, guys. >> okay. a couple of things and then i
want to go to done any if you don't mind. kellyanne conway, sean spicer, sarah huckabee, mike pence, all in the same category, in the kellyanne conway, not credible, proved as a liar, made a fool. also, note to cnn, but you've got to stop putting kelly ann on the air. it's politics porn. you're just getting your little ratings crack, but it's disgusting. there's nothing that she brings to the table that's honest. your hosts know it. your hosts look pained when they interview her because they know they're just doing politics porn. they're not doing news. we need to stick to the news. that brings us to my next point, who is it in the white house that can be trusted? who can be trusted to give a statement, to explain where we stand in this administration, to explain this that this presidency isn't falling down on a house of cards with lies written on them? this is a bad situation, and the
people in the white house are making it worse by being trump's stooges. donny deutsch, what am i saying? >> the guy i see is the accidental dictator. he never thought he was in office, now he's in office. when you contextualize this, the press the enemy, let's blow up the ninth circuit. the senate and congress, i don't know if that works anymore, alternative facts, ban the press from the white house, ban the press from the campaign, the press is the meenemy of the sta, on and on and on and his love for thugs. this is a man that genuinely has behaved one way for 70 years, does not understand the office he has and behaves as a dictator. we can't call it any other way at this point. by the way, let's imprison hillary clinton. we are in very, very, very dangerous territory here. you feel it. i think everybody right now
feels what's happened. there's a man sitting in that chair that is frighteningly ill equipped to understand the office he's in, behave within the framework and this is the latest example. you can feel the thread being pulled. you can feel the clothes starting to come off the emperor. i believe this is the beginning of the end. >> i do, too. joe? >> i'd looic to -- like to go back to the earlier conversation. rod rosenstein is maybe the person in the most interesting position in all of washington. he's a guy who, as you said, was kind of hung out to dry, truss trotted out. said it was his recommendation that led to the firing of jim comey. now we know that's not true. it's reported a day ago he threatened to quilt. his resignation would mean nothing to the trump administration. he singularly could be the person who comes forward to say i am empowered to appoint a special prosecutor in this case.
the attorney general recused himself from the case, rosenstein has that ability. i wonder whether this morning when he sees the way he's been treated, the way he's been used in this situation, whether he would be inclined -- i think it's the one thing he could do at this moment to assert real independence from the white house and to potentially save his reputation after everything he's been through over the course of the last 72 hours. >> john, he's had a stellar career, but he's been deeply implicated by a lot of clowns inside the white house that did this in just as reckless a manner as they did the first executive order. they decided they were going to fire the fbi director in the middle of an investigation into the white house. they had no communication plan, no alternative to lead the fbi. so, willie, they set this guy up as their fall guy. they set this guy as their
patsy. yesterday we ladd reports coming out from "the washington post" and conservatives tried to push back. then the "wall street journal," rupert murdock's "wall street journal" came out reporting the exact same thing, he said he was not comfortable working in a place where the truth was not valued and made the implication that he had serious concerns. that's why we saw the president of the united states stumble when lester holt asked him that question, whose idea was it? because donald trump knew that all the lies of the last day were about to get his deputy attorney general to quit. so trump went from one lie to actually stumbling into the truth, and that's created the firestorm over the past 24 hours, admitted it wasn't rosenstein and then admitted he fired comey to kill the russian investigation.
>> actually, clint and i were watching the sound bite from sarah huckabee sanders and our jaws dropped, when she said out loud, clint, that we'd like to see the russia investigation move along more quickly with integrity and we think by removing comey we've achieved that. >> two mornings ago on this show she said the firing of comey had nothing to do with russia. >> mike pence's quote, willie, on capitol hill when asked about russia said, quote, that's not what this is about. now, as you have said, willie, sarah huckabee sanders and the president of the united states both said that the president was thinking about russia when he fired them. >> we wants this to be over and we think this gets us there. >> they're signaling, this needs to get done quickly. it's the rule of trump over the rule of law. they're in trouble at this point. several points you could ask them specifically did this
happen or did this not. these are things that are going to be investigated. >> again, i ask the question, what is to prevent rod rosenstein this morning from looking up and saying, you know what, democrats and a number of republicans say the only way to get a fair, independent impartial investigation into the russia matter is have a special prosecutor. i'm going to call for one today, and put forward a name that would be credible that would be seen as non-partisan or bipartis bipartisan, what's to stop that? it seems to me there's no good reason for him any longer to remain loyal or do what donald trump and jeff sessions want him to do, just come out and do the right thing. still ahead on "morning joe," the second ranking democrat in the senate, senator dick durbin is here with us, plus the ranking member of the house oversight and government reform committee, congressman elijah cummings. >> we love elijah. >> especially today. as we continue to dig into the
real reasons behind the president's firing of james comey as fbi director. >> he's a show boat, he's a grandstander. >> and there's jim. he's become more famous than me. >> show boat, grantander. mor famous than me. >> show boat, grandstander. >> more famous than me. let it sink in. shouldn't we say we have the lowest price? nope, badda book. badda boom. have you ever stayed with choice hotels? like at a comfort inn? yep. free waffles, can't go wrong. i like it. promote that guy. get the lowest price on our rooms, guaranteed. when you book direct at choicehotels.com. book now. imagine if the things you bought every day earned you miles to get to the places you really want to go. with the united mileageplus explorer card, you'll get a free checked bag, 2 united club passes...
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they give awards for being hot and 100 years old? we'll take 2! [ laughing ] xfinity x1 gives you exclusive access to the best of the billboard music awards just by using your voice. the billboard music awards. sunday, may 21st eight seven central only on abc. yesterday a white house press spokesman said this is one of the smallest things on the plate of the fbi. is that an accurate statement? is it a small investigation in relation to all the other work that you're doing? >> sir, we consider it to be a highly significant investigation. >> you would not characterize it as one of the small evident things you're engaged in? >> i would not. i can tell you also that director comey enjoyed broad support within the fbi and still does to this day. we are a large organization, we are 36,500 people across this
country, across this globe. we have a diversity of opinions about many things, but i can confidently tell you that the vast majority of fbi employees enjoyed a deep and positive connection to director comey. >> i can speak to my own personal experience. i've heard from countless members of the fbi that are grateful and thankful for the president's decision, and i think that we may have to agree to disagree. i'm sure there are some people who are disappointed. i certainly heard from a large number of individuals, and that's just myself and i don't even know that many people in the fbi. >> roughly 48 hours into his new role, the acting director of the fbi has thrown cold water on a number of claims made by the white house to justify president trump's decision to fire james comey. as "the new york times's" matt apuzzo points out, the chance of countless fbi agents to call the white house to complain about
their director and being routed to the fbi press secretary is -- number one, the claim from the trump white house is this is not about an investigation into the trump campaign and russia -- he said it was, quote, highly significant. one of the thrusts that the white house made in firing james comey is that he had lost the confidence of the rank and file at the fbi. acting director mccabe, again, throwing cold water on that as well. >> taking the first, we have known since comey's testimony to the house intelligence committee that this investigation began last july. in terms of numbers of personnel, other measures of resources, we don't know the details. we had a strong statement from andrew mccabe, the acting fbi director who has been overseeing this investigation for comey for many months, that it was in his
view highly significant and we hear reports that it's been accelerating, gaining momentum. the fbi in any investigation, but especially a complicated counterintelligence one works slowly. it's got very sensitive information to work with. the information is studied, assessed, people are interviewed, and then you begin to go after individual people and you begin to make immunity deals. we don't have any evidence they're at that stage yet. this takes a long time we heard directly this is proceeding, supported by the bureau. the second point, the fbi is like any big organization as mccabe said, somewhat factionalized. mccabe is seen as part of a group coming up through counterintelligence investigations centered in washington. there is another group centered in new york that is sometimes
very crate cal of this group. what is striking to me this week is how the two groups came together, not so much behind comey but behind the fbi itself. i think that's what you were hearing in mccabe's voice. we are one organization, we believe in each other and our mission and we're not going to let ourselves be divided politically. >> michael schmidt, that's something we were talking about around the table, in making this impulsive decision t president of the united states hit a horn net easiness at the fbi. you see them privately in some of the sources in these pieces that we're seeing, people stepping up behind koemt me and the fbi more broadly. >> this is probably going to be counterproductive for trump to get rid of comey. it's not that comey was out there doing interviews and writing reports and working on the investigation. yes, he was overseeing it. the day-to-day work was being
done by the analysts, tightly managed there because they don't want the information to get out. now that comey is gone, it's not like that stuff ends. if anything, there's more scrutiny on the fbi now and more people, as the lawmakers on capitol hill said yesterday, looking to make sure there's no interference with this and that they're allowed to do their investigation. while trump may have gotten rid of comey, the attention and the scrutiny will be greater in that the fbi is doing what it likes to say, following the facts. >> clint, let's follow up on that. i don't know how it can be anything but counterproductive. he's enraged fbi officials, united parts of the fbi that were divided before, and you look at andrew mccabe on capitol hi hill. that guy doesn't look like he's going to be anybody's patsy. in fact, he contradicted the president who appointed him just
days earlier. the question i guess, really the most important question, whether rod rosenstein wants to get his reputation back or not, whether he's going to stand up to being rolled over and played for a patsy and whether he's going to be tough, too. the president could have made things significantly worse for himself by trying to end this investigation. >> fidelity, bravely, integrity, that's what the fbi is about. director comey tried to have integrity and he was fired for it. what you'll find out, fbi agents, even if they're behind the scenes trump voters, don't like how this was handled. this was the most unprofessional handling of a firing in our government. the president weasels his way out and sends a letter over to fbi headquarters. he doesn't apparently know where the director is at. the director is publicly
embarrassed in los angeles. it doesn't matter where you stand politically as an fbi agent, you don't think the president has your back. when you see an action like that, how the director was undercut, you'll see them mobilize and they'll recommit to integrity. this has galvanized the fbi in a way that hasn't happened at any time in recent history. >> michael schmidt, thank you for your reporting in "the new york times." i have a special note for the media and a question for you, joe, about that. also, priming the pump. president trump said he coined a phrase that's been around since the early 1800s. we'll show you that moment and some of the other things the president claims he's patented. "morning joe" is coming right back. >> my father would make outrageous claims like he invented the question mark. [team member] so, how can i help you?
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so the economist sat down with president trump for a wide-ranging interview focusing on economic policies. late they are morning we'll speak with the editor in chief. we want to tell you about one specific exchange. when asked if his tax plan would increase the deficit, trump answered, quote, it's called priming the pump.
pressed he said it's okay if it increased the deficit because it may only last for, quote, two years. adding, you understand the question prime the pump. the reporter answered yes, twice. trump continued, because i haven't heard of it, i just came up with it a couple days ago and i thought it was good. prime the pump is not the first thing that trump was the first to come up. seems he was the first person to question why the civil war happened. >> i mean had andrew jackson been a little later, you wouldn't have had the civil war. he was a very tough person, but he had a big heart and he was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the civil war. he said there's no reason for this. people don't ask that question, but why was there the civil war? why could that one not have been worked out? >> the white house, as you may know, is known as the people's house, has been for a long time.
trump says he was the first to refer to the white house by that nickname. >> on behalf of the country, let me extend to all of the writers and your families the warmest possible welcome into -- i call it the people's house, this is the people's house. it's the white house, but it's the people's house. >> one more for you. you know the party of lincoln? watch this. >> our first republican president, abraham lincoln, ran his first campaign for public office in 1832. great president. most people don't even know he was a republican, right? does anyone know? a lot of people don't know that. we have to build that up a little more. let's take an ad, use one of those pacs. >> more and more people recognizing frederick douglass, the famed abolitionist. >> we do have something called the lincoln day dinners that
every republican across america that is involved in politics goes to every year, the lincoln day dinners. so it may be that donald trump is the only person in america surprised that abraham lincoln was, in fact, a republican. it shows, donny deutsch, you have somebody that has taken over the republican party, a hostile takeover that doesn't even know the republican party, and you go through all these quotes that we just played. it is dr. evil's father. he would make outrageous claims like he invented the question mark. sometimes he would accuse chestnuts of being lazy. donald trump, i said it a couple days ago, donald trump is not well, and we are seeing it more day in and day out. we're laughing about all of this, but this is a guy that is detached from the reality that most people -- most of us actually live day in and day out. most of the people who work for
him live day in and day out, most of the people across america that voted for him live day in and day out. >> joe, grieagree with you. we have to get rid of the goldwater thing that clinicians don't diagnose from afar. the other mistake he continues to make, and it goes back to the lies and the clips you made, e david add lied said the consumer is not the consumer. it's your wife, next-door neighbor. people are not stupid. trump has gone through his professional career assuming that and somehow it's worked for him. people aren't idiots. the combination of the lies and things the you just showed, this is going to be one of the other things that's his downfall, there's this supposition of complete stupidity on behalf of the american people that does not exist. people are not stupid. >> john heilemann, at some
point, this has to all catch up to him. i know he has the hard boiled 35, 36, 38%, but even those supporters, i understand some say they'll stay with him till the bitter end. no, they're not. at some point we saw this with george w. bush, people get exhausted. the amount of lies and misinformation flying out his own supporters every day, it seems to me at some point gets exhausting. >> i think that's right. it may be a while. the reality is people who supported trump supported him for a reason. some of it has to do with the notion that he's giving a middle finger to the washington establishment. but the reality is they also want change. they have real lives and they want to see their prospects improve. if you get to the end of this year and all of this other stuff that we're talking about has happened, and on top of that he's proved not to be effective.
he's not actually changing policy, not improving the economy, not getting anything done in washington, not blowing up washington. all he's doing is making a lot of noise. then those people will start to abandon him. i want to say one more thing about priming the pump thing. not only is it the case that trump didn't invent it, the thing, his economic plan, his tax plan isn't what priming the pump is. you prime the pump with temporary fiscal stimulus when you're in a period of super high unemployment. we have a period of low unemployment and this is not at all fitting the definition of priming the pump is, on top of the fact that he didn't make up that phrase. >> not only -- what you're saying here, john heilemann, mika, john pointed out that not only did he not make up the phrase, he's not using it right. he's twisting the meaning of the
phrase. i want to talk, mika, for a second as we go to break. we keep hearing about all the trump supporters will stay with him, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, they see him as this, see him as that. what else they see is their children. at some pot they understand if they have somebody who is president of the united states th lies all the time, then the same lessons they tried to teach their kids about bill clinton lying all the time, at some point they're going to turn around and want to teach their children not to be like donald trump, not to lie, not to get caught in lies every single day. it's on videotape. it's not fake news. it's on videotape. it's in the "wall street journal." donald trump's own friends are reporting he's getting caught in one lie after another lie. at some point, why don't we just go to mike pence. this has got to stop at some point. >> it has to stop. i'm going to just make one more
point about the media in this. we need to stop celebrating ourselves and just do our job. this isn't like some sort of game show. and reporters do a good job because that's what reporters do. i mentioned the pathetic grab for ratings in terms of networks having kellyanne conway on the show, a repeated liar. so consistently she lies that it's almost like watching a car wreck on the highway when you're driving by, you just can't get your eyes off her. it's a gross tabloid tv management ploy for ratings, and that's not our responsibility. here is my question. with flynn lying at least for 18 days when he was under the microscope, 18 days, he gets fired for lying to pence. and yet this entire white house is lying to the country, which shows to me at least, joe, that this presidency is rotten all the way to the core and right to the top.
that's the story we need to cover without joy, without jubilation and without ratings porn. okay. still ahead on "morning joe" -- >> should we do the pledge? should we do the pledge? raise your hand. i swear i'm going to vote for donald trump next week. i swear. wow, just with the people here i think we win, right? >> wow. wow. what an autocratic move. >> candidate trump asked their voters to pledge their loyalty ahead of election day. did the same thing happen with james comey? the white house says no, but friends of the fired fbi director say otherwise. >> by the way, mika, what president, what politician has ever done this, has ever made people stand -- not pledge allegiance to the flag, because
that's what politicians always love to do, but makes everybody in an arena raise their right hand and make a pledge to him. it's a scary picture by the way. i'm sure we all saw it. >> it is, narcissim and paranoia. is a sickness. >> a lot of autocrat mixed in there, and then takes the fbi director and makes him pledge a loyalty oath just like you would expect in russia or turkey. and when he refuses to do it, he gets fired. >> he's not well. >> we'll be right back. liberty mutual stood with me
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welcome back to "morning joe." joining us now, associate editor of "the washington post" and an msnbc political analyst, our gn friend, eugene robinson. gene, you write trump seems to be staging a cover-up so what's the crime? gene writes possibly collusion between russia and the trump campaign was once little more than a conspiracy theory, but not anymore. the only way to make sense of this week's stunning events is to conclude that there is something that president trump desperately wants to hide. if this were a criminal trial prosecutors would allege that the president was displaying consciousness of guilt, that he was acting in a way no innocent person would act. i do believe in mere coincidences up to a point and i know that conspiracy theories usually turn out to be wrong, but i can see no explanation toward trump's bizarre at tutd
toward the allegations of russian meddling other than a desire to conceal something. ask yourself one question, have you ever seen a coverup with no underlying crime? neither have i. they offered a reason for comey's firing contradicted yesterday in that interview with lester holt by the president himself. >> it turns out to have been totally false and everyone was left out on that limb, which -- including vice president pence, the limb that president trump sawed off in that amazing interview with lester holt. i am just amazed. mad props to lester for keeping a straight face during that incredible session. that column was written before the interview. after you heard it, you know, i believe my colleague, david ignatius, a little earlier in the hour used the phrase worst case scenario. you listen to that interview and
you just said this is the worst case scenario about the trump presidency. this is as bad as you thought he might be. he's that bad. and heaven help us. >> clint, we've been talking around the table about where this all leads. some people have used the term obstruction of justice. that's being lobbed around. do you see it heading in that direction? in other words, the president of the united states removing the director, a man leading the investigation into his own presidential campaign? >> yeah. i think the weakness for trump isn't so much his russia connections or the implication of them but the way he's gone about handling and suppressing this investigation. that's what will ultimately get trump himself in the end. i believe that the emissaries between trump during the campaign, they definitely had some sort of russian influence going on but i never actually thought that donald trump was under the thumb of putin. i never believed that. trump will claim that as well. but the way he is going about in the doj, the fbi, in the press and the media trying to suppress
this story repeatedly and say that there's nothing there, every time he does that makes us all say why are you so obsessed with this if there isn't anything there? and those questions, particularly around the flynn investigation, did general flynn talk to, you know, incoming president trump and say, boss, i'm going to talk to the russians and these sanctions, we're going to overlook these as soon as we come into power, yes or no. i think that's the critical question. >> gene, it's donny, real quick. you've covered everything over decades going back to watergate and we've covered two years of trump with these fire drills. for some reason this week feels a little different. it does feel like a moment in time. it does feel like rome is burning. there's no one particular thing. does your gut tell you that? >> yeah, absolutely it does. this was an extraordinary week. the sudden firing of an fbi director for this reason. we now know the reason, totally self interested reason, the
president trying to deflect an investigation into his campaigns, possible collusion with the russians is just extraordinary. and i've never seen anything like it. the veteran, former congressman john dingle was on twitter last night. he said essentially, and i wish i could quote it directly. but he said donald trump's presidency is beginning the way richard nixon's ended. and it would be funny if it weren't so frightening. and that's kind of the feeling i have. the only antecedent i can come up is the final days of the nixon presidency when he was sort of flailing. trump is flailing right now. >> gene robinson, thank you so much. clint watts, thank you as well. coming up we'll talk to renowned legal scholar jonathan turley who's pushing back at the white house claim that there was, quote, nothing wrong with the president asking comey that he was under investigation, not to mention during a meeting
where comey was trying to convince the president to keep him on the job. plus, the top democrat on the oversight committee, congressman elijah cummings, nbc's peter alexander, and "the new york times" jeremy peters with his reporting on what trump supporters think about the outrage. "morning joe" is back in a moment. david. what's going on? oh hey! ♪ that's it? yeah. ♪ everybody two seconds! ♪ "dear sebastian, after careful consideration of your application, it is with great pleasure that we offer our congratulations on your acceptance..." through the tuition assistance program, every day mcdonald's helps more people go to college. it's part of our commitment to being america's best first job. ♪ wearing powerful sunscreen? yes! neutrogena® ultra sheer. unbeatable protection helps prevent early skin aging and skin cancer with a clean feel. the best for your skin.
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you said last week the president had full confidence in his fbi director. what changed? >> the recommendation that came today and the rationale behind it. >> so the president made the decision today? >> yes. >> look, i think when you receive a report that is so clear and a recommendation by someone like the deputy attorney general, you have no choice but to act. >> president trump made the right decision at the right time. to accept the recommendation of the deputy attorney general and the attorney general, to ask for the termination, to support the termination of the director of the fbi. because of the actions that the deputy attorney general outlined to the president that were endorsed and agreed with by the attorney general, the president made the right decision at the right time. >> this is the action that a president takes when he is told
by the deputy attorney general, who's only been on the job for 14 days, so he took a new assessment, a new look at everything. >> did you ask for a recommendation? >> what i did is i was going to fire comey. my decision. it was not -- >> you had made the decision before they came in the room? >> i was going to fire comey. there's no good time to do it, by the way. >> because in your letter you said i accepted their recommendation so you had already made the decision. >> i was going to fire regardless of recommendation. >> welcome back to "morning joe." it's friday, may 12th, along with joe, willie and me, we have executive producer and co-host of "the circus on showtime," john heilemann. donny deutsch is still with us. david ignatius and joining the conversation, "new york times" reporter jeremy peters, and law professor at george washington university, jonathan turley. joe?
>> mika, there's so many lies -- >> it's staggering. >> kellyanne conway said he took a new assessment, a new look after getting rod rosenstein's recommendations. mike pence, when asked if this was about the russian investigation, said that's not what this is about. sarah huckabee sanders. i'm going to different points here. >> yeah. >> that they wanted to close down the investigation and it wasn't a significant investigation. andrew mccabe, who the president appointed earlier this week, this is a highly significant investigation. i want to show you, we've been talking about it, the white house has been playing fast and loose with this man's reputation. front page of "the wall street journal," donald trump would not call this fake news because this is his friend, rupert murdoch's newspaper. there's rod rosenstein. and i read from inside, jumps to page a-5.
it says after white house officials cited his report for the reason for sacking mr. comey, mr. rosenstein pressed white house counsel don mcgahn to correct what he felt was an inaccurate white house depiction. in his talk with mcgahn, mr. rosenstein left the impression that he could not work in an environment where facts were not accurately reported. well, that's where he is. and forgive me, but, you know, the past couple of days with the chaos going on in washington, d.c., and with republicans caving into this man and not standing up to him, i actually went back and i read -- i'm reading again russell kirk's "the conservative mind." and forgive me again, but it's appropriate. in the foreword russell kirk says it is now an affair of a generation of the future which in its ensemble is incapable of discerning truth from lies, the
true from the false, the good from the bad. this is the time of the harvest for the kingdom of man. and that is exactly what russell kirk in 1953 predicted would happen if we moved towards a more secularized autocratic government. and it's happening right now in realtime. >> in realtime. >> 70 years later. >> it really is, on so many levels that it's staggering. and it's beyond troubling. president trump addressed why the letter in which he fired james comey included the claim that the fbi director informed him on three separate occasions that he was not under investigation. >> he told me that. i mean he told you that. >> he told you you weren't under investigation. >> and i've heard that from others. >> was it in a phone call? did you meet face to face? >> i had a dinner with him. he wanted to have dinner because he wanted to stay on.
>> he asked for the dinner? >> that dinner was arranged. i think he asked for the dinner. and he wanted to stay on as the fbi head. and i said i'll consider, we'll see what happens. but we had a very nice dinner. and at that time he told me you are not under investigation. >> did you call him? >> in one case i called him, in one case he called me. >> and did you ask am i under vestigation. >> i actually asked him, yes. i said if it's possible, will you let me know am i under investigation? he said you are not under investigation. >> so, jonathan turley, this is one of these perry mason moments where you've got the witness dead to center. so you either have the witness who is lying on the stand, which he can admit that he's perjured himself and james comey never did ask to stay on, or worst case scenario for the witness, he's telling the truth. and if he is in fact telling the
truth, then he has just admitted to the world that he invited the fbi director for a dinner. the fbi director's purpose of that dinner was to stay on. and in a dinner where he wanted to stay on, the president then used that leverage point to pressure him about an investigation against him, all of his men, and the white house. he loses in either case, doesn't he, jonathan? >> unfortunately, he does. the irony is that he came up with a bona fide reason to fire comey, if comey answered those questions. he created it, but he came up with one. it's clearly inappropriate for the fbi director to give those types of assurances. it would be shocking in terms of what we know about james comey if he did. there are all types of protocols separating the fbi from the white house. it's one of the most carefully
maintained lines of separation. this would blow all those away. and how the president was treating comey at that dinner, including these claims now that he asked about loyalty is really shocking. you don't treat the fbi director like he's a golden retriever that you put a biscuit on his nose and say are you a good director? and so all of this is just rocking the legal world. >> willie geist, also there are a lot of people that will not remember this in washington right now, but in 1993 there was a scandal that blew up when george stephanopolous and de deddede deddede dede meyers invited someone over to help with a press release. this was where you had underlings at the white house trying to manipulate underlings
at the fbi to get a press release out. in this case you have the president of the united states trying to manipulate the fbi director. it gets no worse than that. >> remember the outrage just last year when former president bill clinton visited loretta lynch on that airplane. >> exactly. >> now you've got the president of the united states whose campaign is under investigation summoning the fbi director to the white house to discuss that and to get his loyalty. more on that dinner, current and former fbi officials tell nbc that the white house summoned comey to dinner shortly after the inauguration. the piece says the president is not correct, the white house called him out of the blue. comey didn't want to do it. he didn't even want the rank and file at the fbi to know about it. the former official adds that comey tried to stay away from the russia investigation during the dinner telling the president, look, sir, i really can't get into it and you don't want me to. "the new york times" reports at the dinner president trump asked whether comey would pledge his loyalty to the president. according to two sources who
heard comey's account, the fbi director declined to make that pledge and instead told trump that he would always be honest with him but that he was not reliable in the conventional political sense. the white house pushed back on that description of the dinner saying the president would never suggest the expectation of personal loyalty but rather loyalty to the country. >> oh, please. >> david ignatius, that doesn't float here. loyalty to the country is sort of implied when you're the director of the fbi. how unusual, how extraordinary would this dinner be? and the request of personal loyalty to the president? >> well, if it happened the way it appears to have happened, it was absolutely outrageous for the president to ask. one just hopes that comey didn't respond in anything like the way the president says. i just want to note if you step back a little bit, what you see happening this last week is an attempted purge of the government that failed. it failed not in the sense that comey is still in office, but in
that it triggered precisely the pushback that trump must have dreaded. it's now happened. i think there's every reason to think that the deputy attorney general said he would resign if trump didn't correct the record, and that's why trump said to lester holt i ordered this, it was my idea, it was because if he hadn't, he would have lost a key person in this story. i thought when the acting fbi director, andrew mccabe, went before congress yesterday and just said flat out this is a highly significant investigation of russia and fbi agents, men, women, are -- the vast majority are united behind comey and what comey was trying to do. i thought we were seeing the pushback and the failure of what donald trump had tried to do. and i think that's one takeaway from this week is it didn't work. >> he's obviously made matters even worse for himself.
jeremy peters, let me bring you in here because you wrote a fascinating story about what trump supporters, what their default position is and it makes -- it's not a great surprise that their default position on this brewing scandal right now is the same as it's been in the past. i suspect that will change as well. i remember my father supporting richard nixon and it wasn't until about three days before he resigned that my dad looked at the paper and finally said, well, if he's done half of what they claim, he deserves to be out. i remember being shocked. but your article is fascinating because it explains why so many republicans in the house are being cowards right now and not speaking out against obviously -- obvious lies coming from the white house, which they regularly condemned when bill clinton was president. you have ben sasse, john mccain, senator flake, chairman burr have come out and actually been profiles in courage, but not a lot of others because of the article you wrote this morning.
>> no, joe, you're exactly right. i think that this helps explain more than just why the average trump supporter, you know, in pennsylvania or wherever is kind of reflexively backing him, but why so many republicans in congress. the leadership of the senate, mitch mcconnell, john cornyn, john thune are all very, very reluctant to say that there's something wrong here, and that's because they are looking for culpability elsewhere. they're looking for culpability i think first and foremost in the media and the way that the media they believe has hyped and overreacted. >> but jeremy, i'm not speaking just to you, i'm also speaking to the people that are watching this show right now in that building behind you. the white house has been lying. >> yeah. >> it's evident. they have been caught in lie after lie after lie over the past 48 hours. they handled this horribly. jeremy, that's not -- i mean you can go into any court in america
and take judicial notice that their statements have been false. it is that obvious. >> yes. >> this is not -- they can't blame that on the media. they have to blame that on trump. >> and they're not doing that yet, they're just not there. and i think what could change, what i'm looking for over the next 24 hours or so is what are the republican reactions to this report that my colleague, michael schmidt, had in today's "new york times" that trump demanded loyalty from the fbi director. that strikes me as something that is much more problematic than the evolving story of how trump came to decide that comey needed to go. but i think that what's important to understand here is why you're not seeing more of a reaction from republicans, more of a call for an independent investigation. >> right. >> is the sense that every time trump does something, there is an overreaction, a hyperventilation on the left. and i'm not saying that it's not warranted in this case, but every little thing that he's
done becomes the next constitutional crisis. so the republicans' reflex is to say that's just the liberals and the media trying to shout him down, trying to stifle our voice once again and that's where i think this resistance is coming from. >> i get that and i think everybody needs to be careful. the left needs to be extremely careful and not get ahead of their skis because quite frankly everything that we have seen so far, at least over the past week, months even, is worth hyperventilating about. it's bad. >> it's bad. >> but if we get ahead of our ski, it feeds into the ruse that this president is putting forward with fake news. >> right. >> or the left. we need to do our jobs. the left, the democrats, need to rebuild their party. and republicans need to stand up between what is right and what is wrong and do the right thing. yesterday, john heilemann, you said there was a cover-up. how would you cover it this
morning? >> well, i think that donald trump's comments yesterday in a strange way blew the lid off of his own cover-up, at least in terms of -- there are sort of two cover-ups going on at one point. first was the question of the attempt to obfuscate what the motivations were and the process by which jim comey was fired. and then there's the larger attempt to try to short-circuit the russia investigation, both of which had the look of cover-ups to me. yesterday trump by basically admitting what he really was doing by firing comey by implication and making, as we pointed out earlier in the show, making fools and liars out of the people in his administration, that cover-up no longer is operative. we now can see pretty enclosureenclosure -- clearly what the president has admitted to directly or
indirectly yesterday with lester holt. the larger question is still there, which is the question of why this administration is doing so much in so many different ways to try to prevent there from being an aggressive and independent and far-reaching investigation of his campaign, his associates, and possibly the president's own connections to russia. >> jonathan turley, you are our resident legal expert, although donny has been a defendant many times, he's not qualified to speak on this. i want to ask you about the deputy attorney general, rod rosenstein. what are his options this morning? this is a guy who took the position just about two weeks anegotiati ago, immediately was thrust to the center of this crisis. he was asked to basically be the fall guy for donald trump and donald trump then contradicted that version of events. what can he do today to preserve his own integrity but also for the country. >> that's a good question because obviously his integrity has taken a major hit by being
thrust into this role. one thing that he will have to decide is whether he believes a special counsel should be appointed since attorney general sessions recused himself, it will fall to him to decide whether a special counsel is warranted. for weeks i've questioned the need for special counsel because honestly i still don't see the underlying crime here. you know, when we talk about the russian influence and collusion, there's not any evidence i've seen of collusion but more importantly no one has articulated a major crime, as opposed to the reporting and registration violations of people like flynn, which usually wouldn't warrant a special counsel. but that's the great mystery here. with watergate that people have been talking about, there was a serious crime that began that led to the cover-up. here you seem to have a cover-up without a crime, that's what's so bizarre about the conduct of the white house. it seems to be a cover-up in search of a crime. the problem with the special counsel is what will the special
counsel investigate? but having said that, after they fired comey, my vie is that it's changed, that we do need an independent investigation simply because the white house has created a credibility problem. lots of americans believe that there is an effort here to obstruct the investigation. >> and donny deutsch, we've been saying this now for about two months, that you have one trump official after another trump official, including the attorney general, lying under oath, lying to reporters, lying to anybody that asks about their meetings with russian officials. and those lies have continued repeatedly. now we have lies involving the firing of an fbi director engaged in a russian investigation. as we've said on the show time and time again, you know, all of the lies that have been told by the trump white house about meetings with russia, they could have just explained it away by
saying, yes, i had a meeting with them and we just did it in the matter of the course of business, but they didn't, they chose to lie. all the president had to do in firing james comey is say i lost the confidence of the fbi director, it's time to move that agency in a different direction. they couldn't do that. they set up a straw man, they set up a patsy, they played him for all it was worth until he said he was going to quit. the behavior suggests something far more obvious. i mean ominous. you don't just lie time and time and time again unless there's something that you're covering up. >> absolutely. it's interesting. talk about patsy, you get a feeling, every time i see an image of rosenstein that's played. i get the feeling that this could be the guy that stands up and raises his hand. there's something about he has everything to gain, nothing to lose. the question to you, joe, and david ignatius, and you have talked a lot about this over the past few weeks. what is the tipping point for the republicans. you step back and say okay, he's drifting toward 30 in approval rating. there's no infrastructure,
there's no tax break, we saw what happened with health care. but get a moral imperative. i can't understand for political survival at this point why there is not more of a landslide from republicans standing up and going, whoa, something stinks here. why strategically, and jeremy peters, you touched on this, but what is the tipping point where they jump on the bandwagon, because to me this would seem like that tipping point. >> we haven't seen poll numbers yet that really reflect the damage that's been done by the comey firing, but when they come out, i think you may see more republicans begin to move. we often talk about how this is a government of laws, but in truth, we're a government that depends on people being willing to stand up and take risks, take political risks. i do think rod rosenstein is a person now who's absolutely crucial in making our system work, in refusing to obey orders
he thinks are improper. i think in answer to jonathan turley's question, what is this investigation about, this is a counterintelligence investigation. it began last july looking at russian efforts to manipulate the presidential election in the united states. it didn't begin as an investigation of donald trump. and it isn't that. but it's a very serious issue. why donald trump has sought to obstruct -- obstruct is the wrong word. trivialize it, dismiss it, call it a hoax is the big mystery here. but it's a counterintelligence investigation. it will take a long time. an we'll see whether it ends up talking about collusion of trump. that's not what it began about, it's not really the focus now. for the integrity of the fbi, it's really -- it's got to run its course. >> but, david, when you have a president of the united states
who admits on national television that he has fired the fbi director to get in the way of a russian investigation, to stop a russian investigation, when the white house admits the same thing, the spokesperson admits the same thing, that they fired comey to end the russian investigation, quote, with integrity, then suddenly we are in new territory. we've got to go to break. i've just got to ask you really quickly, david ignatius, in talking about the tipping point for republican, you could talk about republicans behind 16 points in the congressional ballot test, the biggest spread ever. you can talk about donald trump at 36%. but what about those images coming out of the white house where you have the russian foreign minister and the russian ambassador in with russian photographers with russian equipment going inside of there where americans are kept out of there, and the russians literally laughing at donald trump. talk about what the intel community and what the foreign
service community made of that bizarre meeting. >> those, again, were images that took people's breath away. the counterintelligence problem of having a russian official photographer with god only knows what in his camera equipment marched into the oval office was shocking to people. the fact that those were the images the american public and the world saw was just one more bizarre footnote to this. i think as people watched this, they have been -- they have been troubled by each piece of it. my worry is that they're listening to arguments about how terrible trump is and not focusing on the conduct. they're focusing on the play back and forth, but people should really look carefully at donald trump meeting with russians on a day when it becomes clear that what he's
been telling the country just isn't true. >> that's absolutely right. jonathan turley, jeremy peters, david ignatius, thank you all. still ahead, we'll talk to the senate's number one democrat, dick durbin, and the ranking member of the house oversight committee, congressman elijah cummings. plus nbc's peter alexander from the white house and nbc's tom brokaw joins the conversation. you're watching "morning joe." we'll be right back. >> did you worry at all when you made the decision to fire comey when you did, the day before lavrov was here in the white house and the russian ambassador, did you think through the optics of the way this would look? >> i never thought about it. >> you never thought people would say, wait a minute, this guy is investigating me. >> excuse me, excuse me. it was set up a while ago, and frankly i could have waited, but what difference does it make? i don't see what difference it makes. you think it's a coincidence or whatever? actually it was set up, so am i now going to cancel the lavrov
meeting or am i going to delay something else? i'm not looking for cosmetics, i'm looking to do a great job for the country. i'm looking to create jobs. i'm looking to create strength and security. i'm looking to have strong borders. i'm looking for things like that. if people say, oh, gee, i met with lavrov -- and by the way, i had a very good meeting with him. i think we're going to settle the syrian horrible problem relatively soon. e. so if you need e. anything, text me. do you play? ♪ ♪ use the chase mobile app to send money in just a tap, to friends at more banks then ever before. you got next? chase. helping you master what's now and what's next.
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general flynn is a part of this investigation, as you know. sally yates testified that the white house was notified that he had been compromised, he was at risk of being blackmailed. it was 18 days later that he was finally fired. during that 18 days he had access, i assume, to all the nation's top secrets. one day you meet on the issue of comey and you fire him in a humiliating way while he's sitting in a room with his colleagues and it's appearing on the tv. >> my white house counsel, don mcgahn, came back to me.
it didn't sound like an emergency and she actually didn't make it sound like that way either, like in the hearings the other day like it had to be done immediately. this man has served for many years, he's a general. he's in my opinion a very good person. i believe that it would be very unfair to hear from somebody who we don't even know and immediately run out and fire a general. >> she was the acting attorney general at the time. >> my white house counsel came to me. they had, i believe, two meetings, and we ultimately fired, but we fired for a different reason. >> did you know that he had had -- received payments from the russian government? that he had -- >> no. >> received payments from the turkish government? >> no, but obama perhaps knew because he had clearance from the obama administration and his clearance -- and this is something they never want to report. he had clearance from the obama administration, the highest
clearance you can have. >> that is lester holt's interview with president trump yesterday, full of news yesterday, joe. >> willie, he had been fired. >> right. >> by the obama administration when he started getting on the dole of turkey and russia. that's just -- it's so nonsensical, it's stupid. nobody believes that. the timeline doesn't hold up. why does he do things like that? willie geist is going to tell us now. >> he also didn't answer lester's question about why pull the trigger so quickly on james comey and not on michael flynn. let's go to the white house. nbc news national correspondent peter alexander is there for us, as always. peter, there is a disconnect here between the president and his own officials inside the administration, the people that have been carrying his message out to the press, over how the comey firing took place and why it took place. what's the word this morning? >> well, obviously you guys have been playing some of those flat contradictions between what the president said, acknowledging that he had been thinking about the russia thing as he described
it being a made-up thing when he came to the decision that he would fire james comey and that's really a direct contradiction to what we've heard over the course of the last 72 hours from some of his top aides. i've just been speaking to some white house aides this morning who give a little backstory before that interview with lester, they were briefing the president before that interview took place among those in the room, jared kushner, reince priebus was there briefly, kellyanne conway, some members of the communications staff there as well. you remember sean spicer not present right now as he's on navy duty right now serving at the pentagon. but some of the advice in effect to the president was we don't think there's a good reason to do this. you don't need to go out there and do another interview, the white house has a briefing each day. the message is delivered clearly there. some will express some disagreement about the fact that it's delivered clearly there when the story proves different for the president, but the president believes he's his best spokesman and he wants to get out and deliver the story. the problem that it does is it undercuts the message that does
come from the podium. the podium used to really mean something. it used to be the message not just of the white house but of america, and now so often what we've heard from there is at odds with the facts. >> nbc's peter alexander at the white house. peter, thanks so much. let's bring into the conversation nbc news special correspondent tom brokaw. tom, always good to see you, sir. sean spicer will be back at the podium today. one wonders what he can possibly say given the fact that he was the first on tuesday evening to put out the statement that president trump fired director comey at the recommendation of jeff sessions, the attorney general, and rod rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, and the president coming out to lester yesterday and saying, no, that's actually not how it happened. i had already made up my mind. it seems to me the white house is trapped between these two stories. what can they say today? >> well, what they'll say is what they always say, that they'll have some kind of an interpretation that won't add up. there's a new reality at the white house almost every day. we have such chaos at this early stage in the trump presidency that it's hard to calculate how
we go from here. the idea that the president would have dinner with comey and then ask in effect solicit a kind of immunity from any investigation that he may be conducting and comey didn't give him what he wanted so then he began to think about firing him at that point. you start to stack up all of this stuff, i mean it is a very, very persuasive case that the president is getting up every morning and making up the presidency with not an awareness about separation of powers, about the appropriate behavior that should be going on there, and i don't know who else is having any influence on him. he seems to be doing this on his own. by the way, it's kind of how he ran his business when he was here in new york. you know, he kind of made it up every day and he got away with it, but he was a real estate developer at that point. he was a guy that was trying to build casinos. he's now the president of the united states. there are rules and laws in effect. i don't know what's going out in
trump country about what they're saying in coffee shops this morning, but sooner or later there's got to seep in some doubt about whether we can continue like this. this is quite a chaotic time and an important time not just in the presidency but in the country. joe? >> you know, tom, i think i told you before, was a big nixon man, loved richard nixon and loved him till the very end, but there was a point even at the very end where my father said enough is enough and said we've got to back away from this guy because he's not fit to be president of the united states anymore because of what he did. i guess, tom, the question is we haven't even really begun the investigation in earnest in a public way, but what do you suspect would move trump voters off of trump the way nixon voters eventually moved off of nixon? because everybody claims that trump is new, trump is special. richard nixon, as you know better than anybody, knew how to
seize upon the resentments of the forgotten middle class every bit as well as donald trump, but even they left him eventually. >> well, within my own family and among my friends as well, i always remind everyone that watergate was about an extraordinary criminal conspiracy that was run out of the oval office. we had a person in the united states who was getting money to pay off the original burglars, throwing up his closest aides who ended up going to prison because of perjury on their part and every day there would be a new version. but it came back not just to clumsiness or political manipulation of the system but it was a criminal conspiracy and that's what we have to keep in mind here. so in my judgment always on these scandals, going back to iran contra, for example, separate and unequal. watergate was unique. but this is a -- this is beginning to be an extraordinarily important political moment in the life of this country and the presidency
about how a man conducts himself as a chief executive of the united states and what his expectations are about how he ought to be protected from the rules that are in place and have been for a long, long time. >> tom, your point that you made a few minutes ago about how he ran his business is so right on in that he did not have people around him, he did not have senior staff. it was a mom-and-pop organization. he was -- and he still thinks he's an autocrat. by the way, we see this time and time again. he's 70, he's not changing and he's not going to change tomorrow or the next day. i think that's going to continue to be his undoing, the very style that made him successful as a businessman is the very style i think is going to bring him down as president. >> he had no board of directors, for example, saying you can't do that, there are rules, s.e.c. rules, ethic rules within business, and he could roll over them if he wanted to. he was hot and cold as a success. he went terribly broke i think three different times. then he'd have a good run. you can't run the presidency
that way. there are rules around the presidency. and in fact it is the most important office in the world. not just in the american economy and who we are in terms of protecting our values, but what's going on in the world. i know we had a meeting with china in which he thought he did very well and he feels strongly that he can get along with putin. it's not about personal relationships, it's about nation to nation reelilationships. you can't tell me president xi didn't go back to china, call his bureau together and say, okay, here's what we're dealing with, folks. here's some opportunities for us here. the illusion is these guys got along, it's going to be okay. it's not going to be okay. we have big economic and national, political and military business to be done between them and we've got to protect the united states and there are rules for doing it. one last thing. you know, i had a lot of problems with some parts of the obama administration. think if president obama were behaving like this at this point
about how the fire would be on out there on conservative media about it. it would be an enormous uprising, so they have got to get it straightened out in the white house, not just in their interest but especially in the interest of the american people in my judgment. >> another one of those moments where we're lucky tovt perspective of this guy, aren't we? tom brokaw, thanks so much. chuck schumer now wants the deputy attorney general to brief all 100 senators on the comey firing. included in that invitation was the warning that his reputation is at risk. we'll talk about that with the senate's number two democrat, dick durbin. "morning joe" is coming right back. ♪ at lincoln, we're all about making things simpler for you. like, imagine having your vehicle serviced...
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♪ such a pretty face such a pretty smile ♪ ♪ i feel stunning ♪ and entrancing ♪ i feel like running and ranting for joy ♪ ♪ for i'm pretty >> that is a new promo for "saturday night live." melissa mccarthy hosts snl tomorrow night right upstairs in this building. they have a lot to work with this week. >> whoever had the idea of casting her as sean spicer was a stroke of genius. >> i expect says loren michaels. >> who would you cast assayer awe huckabee sanders? i feel a feeling she'll show up this week. >> i don't know. i really don't know. it's been such a clown show this week on that front that you've got about five or six different people. it would be like the cast of a broadway show. again, how do you -- willie, how
do you narrow it down? they have so much material here. they need a three-hour show like us. >> well, last night was writing night. so i saw some of them as we walked in early in the morning, some of the writers and cast are walking out of this building. they're up all night working on it. coming up next, we'll talk to congressman elijah cummings who's demanding immediate emergency hearings over the decision by the president to fire james comey. the ranking member of the house oversight committee joins us next on "morning joe."
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nothing to do with russia. >> one last question on this matter -- >> and i have a certified letter, just so you understand. i'm not just saying that, i've given the letter, i've given the letter to senator lindsey graham. he has the senator lindsey graham. he has the letter and i assume he is going to give the letter out. it says, i'm not involved in russia. no loans, no nothing. >> so, willie, he has a certified letter and he also has two kellogg's proof of purchase seals and a couple of jacks that he is going to give to members of congress. that should make everything okay, right? >> just so people understand, a certified letter. it is a class of mail which means you pay a couple extra bucks. they will give you a receipt and let you know when the person received it. it in no way proves that the contents of that letter are true. it means you paid a couple extra bucs at the post office. >> what conceivable.
where could a certified letter come from that would say yes for the last 30 years. it is such a lever of insanity. you have a certified letter. >> the certified letter doesn't matter. even though we all agree donald trump should release all of his tax returns, at least for the past five to ten years. that still is not going to get to the bottom whether there was money laundering between russia and the trump organization or how deep those ties go. if he was frozen out from american banks or he had to get funding from russia, we don't know that. we won't know that until there is an extensive investigation. let's hope that begins not only in the senate but also on the house side. to talk about that, let's go to capitol hill with one of our good friends, the ranking member of the committee on oversight
and government reform, democratic represent, elijah cummings. tell me, what can your committee do on the house side to push this investigation forward so americans, republicans and democrats and independents alike, can know whether their president has been unduly influenced by russia? >> clearly, we are in a crisis of confidence. what we can do, joe, is to bring in a sign that deputy sessions and certainly comey to try to figure out exactly what happened with regard to this firing. it is quite alarming to see and hear what happened and to be frank with you, to have the president invite the person who was in charge of investigating him to dinner and then discuss
his job tenure and also discuss whether he is in investigation is from a legal standpoint and from an everyday person's standpoint shocking to the conscious. >> congressman, it is willie. who is the one person you would like to sit before you panel and be asked questions. who do you think holds the key of this relationship between the trump campaign and russia? >> flynn and manafort. i think they hold the key, no doubt about it, in my mind. i also want to address this issue of i know him. keep in mind he is from my state. president obama kept him on for two terms in a heavily
democratic city. he had unanimous support of all the democrats in our dell grags pretty much. so when i heard about this, i said, that doesn't sound like rosenstein. he worked with us very closely in the city. i found him to be a very honorable man. i think he has unfortunately, been tainted by all of this. now is the moment for him to step up. i know people have said his reputation has been tarnished to some degree. after 27 years in the u.s. attorney's office, stellar reputation, i believe that he is the person who should come forth, select, if he thinks it is appropriate, a special counsel to address this issue and move forward. >> congressman, real quick, who do you think would be good for that job and what do you think
of the idea of merrick garland to run the fbi? >> i think mr. garland would be fine. i think rogers, congressman rogers they were mentioning, would be fine. as a matter of fact, i think rosenstein would be fine, to be frank with you. but we need -- we have to have people like that who will do what is right by the american people. we have got to move forward with this. keep in mind, the republicans, i want to be clear. the republicans have to work with the democrats to put country first. i mean, we can not even get any cooperation and paul ryan, who everybody says is going to be the future president someday, will not lift a finger with regards to this investigation. it is very upsetting to me as a member of congress. it hurts that we are basically sitting on the sideline.
i know adam schiff is doing the best he can with the intelligence committee but ryan needs to stop helping to be an aider and abetter of president trump and be a supporter of the united states of america. i want to pass on a democracy to my children and my children's children that is in fact. we can not let one man destroy our democracy. >> elijah, i share your disappointment with so many republicans that right now just are not stepping up and choosing country. they need to. elijah, thanks for being with us. as always, it is great to have you here. thank you so much, friend. >> willie, what do we have coming up next? >> congressman, thank you as well. we have been at this two hours and we have only scratched the surface on the big developments that came out of the president's
interview with lester holt. we will talk with senator dick durbin who seems to be convinced that comey's firing was directly related to the russia investigation. do you play? ♪ ♪ use the chase mobile app to send money in just a tap, to friends at more banks then ever before. you got next? chase. helping you master what's now and what's next. a lower a1c is a lot witabout choices.tes but it can be hard sometimes, 'cause different sides of you struggle with which ones to make. well, what if you kept making good ones? then? you could love your numbers. discover once-daily invokana®, a pill used along with diet and exercise
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attorney general, you have no choice but to act. >> president trump made the right decision at the right time and to accept the recommendation of the deputy attorney general and the attorney general to ask for the termination, to support the termination of the director of the fbi. because of the actions that the deputy attorney general outlined to the president that were endorsed and agreed with by the attorney general, the president made the right decision at the right time. >> this is the action that a president takes when he is told by the deputy attorney general, who has only been on the job for 14 days. he took a new assessment. a new look at everything. >> did you ask for a recommendation? >> what i did is i was going to fire comey. my decision. >> you had made the decision before they came to you? >> there is no good time to do
it. >> in the letter, you said you had accepted their recommendation. >> i was going to fire regardless of recommendation. >> in one stunning interview with msnbc news, president trump single-handedly kneecaped his administration, contradicting his communications staff and raising the possibility that the russian investigation was top of mind when he abruptly fired the man in charge of carrying it out. joe, before we launched the show this morning, frame out what we have seen over the past 24 hours. >> well, yesterday, during this show, we had said that it seemed obvious that what the white house had told us the day before, those lies, had been burned off by noon yesterday. forget a burning off. the president in sitting down with lester holt completely blew wide open every excuse, every distraction, every lie put forward by this white house and
their president. you had, as you said, the president of the united states making every one of his spokespeople out to be liars. sean spicer was made out to be a liar, kellyanne conway made out to be a liar. sarah huckabee sanders made out on this show by the president of the united states to be a liar. most damming, vice-president mike pence, on capitol hill seven times, not telling the truth to reporters. based on what perhaps the president told him or maybe he just wasn't telling the truth because unlike those other three that we mentioned, we know that mike pence was in the room from the very beginning. then, of course, mika, you have already alluded to what i think is the bigger story. donald trump and the trump white house has admitted on camera
they fired james comey because they wanted to kill the fbi investigation that was reaching into trump's affairs with russian associates. they admitted that on camera. so i don't know what republicans are going to do today on capitol hill that are still foolishly following this man off the cliff. i don't know what conservative talk radio hosts are going to do, how they are going to try to switch the blame. two days ago, they were so sad and pathetic when they were trying to blame it on the deputy attorney general. go back and listen to their tapes and the apolgists. they took trump's lie and swallowed it whole. he forced them to spit it out. this man, mika, ends up making fools of everyone that works around him. >> yeah. >> so we'll see what happens today. we have so much news. that's actually just scratching the surface of the corruption. >> it really is.
>> of the corruption and the lies that are entangling this white house and this president. >> kellyanne conway was on a certain black list where you just couldn't believe anything she said anymore. there are now three or four more people on na list and i don't know how the white house operates when you have a team that the condition be trusted, that is very clearly lying every step of the way. so along with joe, willie, and me, we have -- >> mika, you just have to say right now, the fish rots from the head and you look at sean spicer and sean spicer is a guy that i have known in politics for a very long time, good guy, trusted guy. he has gone into the white house and shattered his reputation. i have known kellyanne conway for 20, 25 years. she shattered her reputation. alternative facts. >> let's talk about rod
rosenstein. for 27 years, this guy had a stellar reputation in washington, d.c. think about the thousands and thousands and thousands of hours that that man put in building his reputation over three decades in the washington legal community. in one week, donald trump has slimed him. they lied about him. they set him up as the fall guy. he was the patsy. he was the sucker. the question is, whether he is going to stick around and put up with it. >> along with joe, willie, and me, we have executive producer and co-host of the circuit, john heilman. former fbi special agent, flint watch. donny deutsch is with us and columnist, david i gnatius and "new york times" reporter, john schmitt. he said that the fbi director informed him he was not
under investigation. >> he told me that. >> he told you weren't under investigation with regard to the russian investigation? >> i have heard that from others. >> was it in a phone call or did you meet face to face? >> i had a dinner with him. he wanted to stay on. we had a very nice dinner at the white house. >> he asked for the dinner? >> that dinner was arranged. he wanted to stay on as the fbi head. i said, i'll consider it. we'll see what happened. he told me, you are not under investigation. >> did you call him? >> in one case, i called him and in one case, he called me. >> did you ask him, am i under investigation? >> i asked him, if it is possible, would you let me know, am i under investigation? >> he said, you are not under investigation. >> but new reports contradict the president's claims. current and former fbi officials tell nbc that the white house summoned comey to dinner shortly after the inauguration.
quote, the president is not correct. the white house called him out of the blue. comey didn't want to do it. he didn't even want the rank and file at the fbi to know about it. the former official added that comey tried to stay away from the russian investigation telling the president, look, sir, i really can't get into it and you don't want me to. "the new york times" reports at the dinner president trump asked whether comey would pledge his loyalty to him. according to two sources that heard comey's account, the fbi director declined to make that pledge and instead told trump that he would always be honest with him but that he was not reliable in the conventional political sense. the white house pushed back on that description of the dinner saying the president would never suggest the expectation of personal loyalty but rather loyalty to the country. >> yesterday, lester holt asked the president. >> who believes that first of
all? >> who believes loyalty to the country. that is another lie by the white house. i talked to people in the intel community including some of the top people at the fbi over the past two decades. they tell me in no uncertain terms in real time, james comey came back. david ignatius, they said it was a flt-out lie. the president was delusional for saying this. he said that james comey would have never asked for an extension on his term because he had a ten-year term and he knew he had nothing to worry about. >> joe, this is one of those situations where the worst case actually seems to be happening.
what the press has now told us himself was his motivation clearly going back months to get rid of comey and has said specifically that he was troubled by the made-up russia thing as he put it in his interview with lester holt. the president appears to have done something which is almost unimaginable, which is to. >> seek and get the most private details of an investigation that involves him and his campaign staff. the most striking pushback for me yesterday was the acting fbi director, andrew mccabe, going before the senate intelligence committee and saying, no, it is not true as president trump has said that james comey was
rejected by his bureau. he gave a very tough and i thought convincing account of what's really going on. >> david ignatius, two more lies blown out of the water by andrew mccabe's testimony. one of them was the white house claiming that comey didn't have the confidence of the rank and file and the fbi. that was proven to be a complete and total lie by the man appointed by the president to run the fbi. >> and by everyone fbi agent that i can contact. >> every fbi agent. in fact, of course, it is telling david that donald trump had to cancel his visit to the fbi, because he was told the reception would be so harsh. that tells you there. the second lie blown out of at water was the lie that there was nothing to this russian investigation. donald trump said there is nothing there. andrew mccabe testifying before
congress saying it is extraordinary important to the fbi. james comey was monot a perfect fbi director. there were people in the bureau that were not happy with him. it is interesting that when the president moved to sack him, there has been a drawing together at the fbi. whatever divisions there were i think have really eased as people wanted to defend their bureau and its integrity and independence. what specifically was president trump seeking in that dinner that, as you report, the white house called and james comey did not call it. it contradicts what president trump told lester holt. what kind of loyalty did he want?
did he specifically reference the russian investigation? >> comey had been appointed by obama in 2013. seven days into his presidency, january 27, comey gets summoned to the white house. he doesn't want to go but he doesn't think he can turn the meeting down. right off the bat, trump goes after the issue of loyalty signaling to comey this was the reason he wanted to talk to him. comey sidestepped it and said, look, i'll give you my honesty. he doesn't give that loyalty approach. trump kept on coming back to it. they eventually get to the point where trump says honest loyalty. i don't specifically know whether it is true that the issue of the russian investigation came up there. it was clear to comey what trump was trying to get from him. comey didn't want to do it. he was afraid of doing it. his relationship from there deteriorated. what comey's associates say when they look back at this, they say this is pretty crystal clear why this relationship never worked
out and why comey was fired. still ahead, senator dick durbin isn't dismissing the idea of merrick garland for fbi director. we'll talk about that and his reaction to the president's staggering disclosures about the russian investigation with nbc's lester holt. first, bill karins with a check on the forecast for mother's day weekend. >> that's right, mika. happy mother's day weekend to you. some areas are going to be wet and some are going to be absolutely beautiful. we dealt with the severe storms through oklahoma, louisiana. oklahoma saw the worst of it. look at this big tree. how did that garage and that take the weight of that tree? this was very common. no injuries, no fatalities. we are still dealing with these storms. we are going to deal with the heavy rain saturday into sunday. it still looks like the 1-2 inches of rain from washington, d.c. all the way through northern new england maybe isolated total.
let's give you the timing. here is where we are now watching the storm sweeping through the southeast. by 8:00 p.m., storms beginning to rife around atlanta, through alabama, northern mississippi. the rain will be coming towards washington, d.c. and raining in richmond by 8:00 p.m. as we go through the overnight hours, heaviest rain will be overnight. by 5:00 p.m. saturday, heaviest rain over philly and new york city and approaching areas in boston, raining hard in southern new england. by the time we get to mother's day morning, the worst will be from boston northward. there is some great weather out there this upcoming weekend. mostly experienced throughout the middle of the country and the northwest is a little soggy for mom's day. top of the rock, new york city, heavy rain for new york city will be with 2:00 p.m. saturday until about 2:00 a.m. sunday morning. you are watching "morning joe." we'll be right back.
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so the president contradicted what the vice-president and others said about russia having no role over the decision to fire james comey. >> why specifically did president trump fire james comey? >> it is real simpl here. the deputy attorneygeneral, a guy who has a stellar reputation, was just confirmed, 94-6 across the board, has the respect of democrats, republicans, people in the justice department, made a very strong recommendation. the president followed it. >> this absolutely has nothing to do with any investigation into russia. >> it has nothing to do with russia but everything to do with whether the current fbi director has the president's confidence. >> reporter: intelligence officials have said there is investigation between potential ties and campaign and russian officials. >> that's not what this is about. the president took strong and decisive leadership here to put
the safety and security of the american people first. >> what about the president's dissatisfaction with the russian probe. did that play into this, sir? >> let me be very clear that the president's decision to accept the recommendation of the deputy attorney general and the attorney general and remove director comey as head of the fbi was based solely and exclusively on his commitment to the best interest of the american people. >> all right. compare that to what the president told lester holt. >> regardless of recommendation, i was going to fire comey, knowing there was no good time to do it. in fact, when i decided to just do it, i said to myself, i said, you know, this russia thing with trump and russia is a made-up story. it is an excuse by the democrats for having lost an election.
>> just to clarify one thing you said, that the president has enco this investigation with russia. he wants to see an egregious completion sooner than later. how is he encouraging it if he just fired the man overseeing it? >> it is not just fbi but multiple people, the house, the senate. we want this to come to its conclusion and we want it to come to its conclusion with integrity and we think by removing director comey, we have taken steps to make that happen. thanks so much, guys. >> a couple of things and then i want to go to donnie, if you don't mind. first of all, kellyanne quconwa sean huckabee, mike pence. they are all in the same category, not credible, proved as a liar, made a fool. note to cnn, sorry, i love cnn but you have to stop putting kellyanne on the air. it is politics porn.
you are just getting your little ratings crack. it is disgusting. there is nothing she brings to the table is honest. your hosts know it. your hosts look pained when they interview her. they know they are just doing politics porn. they are not doing news. we need to stick to the news. >> that brings us to the next point. who is it in the white house na can be trusted to give a statement to explain where we stand in this administration, to explain that this presidency isn't falling down on a house of cards with lies written on them? this is a bad situation. the people in the white house are making it worse by being trump's stooges. donny deutsch, am i overstating things? what are the optics you see? >> the optics i see is a guy who is an accidental dictator. he never thought he would be in office. now, he is in office. he doesn't know how to behave differently. the senate, the congress, i don't know if that works
anymore. alternative facts, let's ban the press from the white house, the press is the enemy of the state. let's give states the rights to round up immigrants. on and on and on and his love for thugs. this is a man that genuinely has behaved for 70 years one way. he does not understand the office he has and he behaves as a dictator. oh, by the way, let's imprison hillary clinton. i think everybody feels what's happening. there us a mn sittian sitting i chair that is frighteningly ill equipped to understand the office he is in and behave within the framework. this is just latest example. you can feel the thread being pulled. you can feel the clothes starting to come off the emperor. i believe this is the beginning of the end. coming up on "morning joe" ari melbourne deconstructs the
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welcome back. president trump has been watching the news as he usually does and he is tweeting about it. as a very active president with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy. maybe the best thing to do would be to cancel all future press briefings and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy. joe, moments ago, the president of the united states tweeted this, james comey better hope there are no tapes of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press. >> wow, it is really something. this is a man who insults senators, congressmen. he fired fbi director. he still just doesn't get it. he has done something that no president has been able to do in decades. that is, unite the competing factions of the fbi and get them all on the same side.
the sub head of "the new york times" headlines official versions of events are unraveling. willie, you don't have to read any newspaper. you don't have to go to any website. all you have to do is actually look at the transcripts of what all the president's men and women have said and then what the president said to lester holt yesterday. so many damming things came out of that interview. i don't know. where do we start. you have got the president saying he fired him in part to finish the russian investigation. you have the president saying it was all his idea despite the fact that he had his vice-president lie on capitol hill seven times. we don't know whether he once again set the vice-president up to be a liar like michael flynn had set the vice-president up to be a liar. his entire administration is now collapsing under the weight of these lies. willie, i think m tthe question
that's been raised by john heilman, what will rod rosenstein do next may be the most important question. this is a man that has a chance to protect his reputation, a reputation he has carefully crafted over 27 years, that donald trump has managed to sully in just one week. what is his next move? will he do what is best for the united states of america? will he continue to be a donald trump hack? >> well, joe, i will quote elijah cummings, congressman on this show, a few minutes ago, who, as he pointed out, knows deputy a.g. rosenstein pretty well, because they come from the same area of maryland, called him an honorable man. he said, now is a moment for him to stand up, talking about rod rosenstein. we have ari emanuel with us. >> what did i say? ari melbourne. >> what did i say? ari emanuel. if you want to call in and join
the conversation. ari melbourne, it is good to see you. i'll get to you in one second. hold your horses. ari, let me ask you this. what is rod rosenstein's next move from here. >> i think rod rosenstein probably needs to speak both to the senate and probably publicly in the right form and clear this up. to underscore what joe scarborough was saying here, it is not just a press problem or a communications problem, if the government of the united states, through the white house and the justice department is actively lying about the removal of an fbi director mid-stream and during an investigation. this is not about press. the president's tweets seem to show an obsession over communication, rather than substance. the substantive issue is, if they were lying about why the fbi director was fired, ding the overght of an
investigation at figures into donald trump's aids as the fbi director confirmed under oath and no one has denied from the fbi or d.o.j., why, why were they lying? in an investigative context, usually, when someone is lying, it is seen as a sign of guilt or cover-up. it suggests they did something wrong. people lie usually about the wrong things, not the right things they did. this is no thet a communication problem. the second thing, the president talked in the interview with nbc news about his decision that he would either speed up or slow down the russia investigation. if he were actively doing that, we don't know that he is. if he were doing that, that, itself, could be obstruction and illegal. if he is not doing that, he is showing he doesn't still understand how investigations work. >> he has been investigated. i think he understands how investigations work.
i want to go to the "wall street journal," the president and white house's favorite news outlet. rod rosenstein on the front page. then due the jump and this story to page 5. john heilman, after white house officials cited the report was the reason for sacking comey, he pressed white house counsel to correct what he felt was an inaccurate depiction according to a person familiar with the conversation. mr. rosenstein left the impression that he could not work in an environment where the facts were not accurately reported. that from "the wall street journal" and that also quoted by sources in "the washington post." i think you have asked the important question this morning. what is rod rosenstein's next move? does he do what's in his best interest, which actually happens to be in the best interest of
the united states of america? or is he yet another in a long line of people from manafort to lieu endo yousky to a slew of people that donald trump has thrown under the bus at will when it served his purposes. >> as elijah cummings pointed out, a guy who had a lot of support from democrats, not a partisan democrat, not a trump person, in the department of justice for years and years. he is now in a position because of the way we don't have an independent counsel anymore. we have an attorney general who has ostensibly recused himself from this matter. it is in the hands of rod rosenstein to say whether there should be a special prosecutor appointed and to choose that person. he has an enormous amount of latitude and the capacity to say, you know what, i'm going to do in a nonpolitical way but it would have huge political ramifications. i want to just ask you, joe,
about these tweets. in particular, this one. the most recent trump tweet here really deserves some focus. he says here that james comey better hope that there are no tapes in quotes of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press. can i ask you to read that and tell me whether you think is he suggesting here that there are tapes of these conversations he had with comey? is that what we were meant to read? is trump trying to say in a nixonian way, he taped his conversations? >> he is doing one of two things, tipping his hand he did tape the fbi director secretly without his knowledge just like i'm doing some light reading
right now, "the final days." >> always good. >> it was ironic. i was just going through the section of the book where they were talking about nixon's dictabelt and talking about the tape of every conversation he had. you have donald trump admitting that he is nixonian and improperly taping the fbi director without his knowledge or he is just being a thug and acting like a thug in a schoolyard bully and thugishly threatening comey trying to intimidate him to suggest, hey, i have a taped conversation. it is probably a bluff. either way, willie, it is repulsive. like everything else that this man has done over the past week, it is unbecoming of a president of the united states. >> it is pretty clear it is a threat. this is not a man who can be threatened anymore. you already fired james comey.
what else are you going to do to him at this point? we are seeing his point of view in the newspapers for the last couple of days. that's not going to change. >> it is a really odd thing to do at a moment when you are being accused of being nixonian in having fired the fbi direct for to now make an allusion that's going to invite further comparisons to the darker sides of richard nixon. >> if there is a tape out there right now, john, imagine the firestorm that would start, that the president of the united states illegally taped a conversation with the fbi director. that is a crime probably in a lot of states probably. that could be a crime in washington, d.c. >> in one sentence, at a certain point, enough public comments during a criminal inquiry can amount to witness tampering. >> one other thing i will point
out. we want to get to dick durban who is standing by. he put the word tapes in quotes. when he suggested that president obama had, quote, wiretapped it. it put it in quotes, mink it co mean anything. he is saying there were other voices or people that could corroborate the story. >> the way most people tape things now is through digital. there wouldn't be any tapes if you were recorded something. it would be a recording, not an actual tape. >> are you saying that quotes means it is not true? >> the point being it gives the president some wiggle room to explain it later if he has to. let's bring in democratic whip, senator dick durban. thanks for your patience. always good to see you. let me start with your reaction to the following tweet from the president of the united states. james comey better hope that there are no, quotes, tapes of
our conversations before he starts leaking to the press. >> that fits in the category of wiretaps by president obama. it is just another one of his fantasies that he is putting out before the public. we ought to get to the bottom line here. president trump is dangerous, because he may be obstructing justice in terms of the investigation that goes to the heart of our democracy, the accountability of the president, the people around him to the rule of law, protecting our democracy from an invasion, a cyberinvasion by the russians. secondly, his credibility has been destroyed. when you are the leader of the free world, you need to be credible not only in your own country to be an effective president but around the world. this episode this week is a demonstration this president's credibility is not very strong. >> you expressed concerns on the floor of the senate this week. you say any attempt to stop or undermine this fbi investigation would raise grave constitutional issues. do you have concerns that the fbi investigation now that james
comey is gone will be hampered by his absence or are you confident the fbi will continue to pursue it under acting director mccabe? >> the fbi works as the direction of the attorney general. because attorney general sessions misrepresented himself in his conversations with the russians, he has recused himself and now it is in the hand of rod rosenstein as to whether or not it continued. i voted for him just a few weeks ago. i believe in his integrity. he has an amazing record he has written as a prosecutor. right now, he has two very stark and important options. the first is to appoint a special prosecutor. an independent person outside the government with no political label initiating and finniishin this investigation. the second thing is to re-sign. >> let me ask you your response to the white house spokesperson
saying that donald trump actually fired james comey to end the russian investigation, something that donald trump himself seemed to admit yesterday in a conversation with lester holt that when he fired james comey he was, in fact, thinking about the russian investigation and how angry he was that comey had continued the russian investigation. >> joe, that was obvious from the start. this idea that president trump was dismiss can comey to defend the honor of p hillary clinton. that's laughable. this is a man that invented the phrase lock her up. the fact that he is standing up for poor hillary clinton, nobody bought that. there us a serious question about jeff sessions role in this. he recused himself from athing involving this and then is party to dismissing the person who is leadinthe investigation. there is a serious ethical question raised by that conduct. finally, i do trust mr. rosenstein. i believe he was duped into
writing this if i cantycious reason when the president blirted out the real reason was the russian investigation. >> what do you think of the idea being floated by some republicans and others of the notion of merrick garland as the new head of the fbi and do you have any suggestions for who ace special prosecutor might be if rosenstein goes that way? >> well, i can tell you this notion of picking merrick garland as the head of the fbi is some consolation prize for the miserable way he was treated by mitch mcconnell and the senate republicans. he is the chief judge now in the d.c. circuit, the second highest court in the land. i hope he stays there. i want him to continue to lead in that capacity. in terms of potential people to run the fbi, i don't have a short list but i want to make sure whoever it is is credible. this is an organization which under judge mueller in the past and others really did have a
good reputation for hard work. judge mueller was, if you remember, his term was extended, because we respected him so much. let's get back to that point where we have somebody, in that case, a former federal judge, who no one questions the integrity of. >> senator dick durban from chicago, his home state of illinois this morning calling the president of the united states dangerous. senator durban, thanks so much. we appreciate your time. coming up, president trump tells the economist his tax plan will, quote, prime the pump, a phrase he said he invented. not only is that untrue but it doesn't quite apply to his proposal. we are bringing the economist, editor and chief next.
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finished. i am very proud of them. i did a good job. end quote. his director of strategic communications tried to bring him back to his state for not releasing them. he said, once the audit is over. he brushed off the aattempt sayi saying i might release them when i'm out of office. >> my friend joining us today, zanny, great to have you here. you were in that interview among two or three of your colleagues. i read the interview. i thought, man, this was a really interesting interview. the president expressed some rather novel and nondoctrine interviews of economics. give us a sense of what that was like. >> well, it was pretty interesting. it felt a little bit like a king holding court. it was in the oval office, which, as you know, is a pretty extraordinary room for those of us not american. a pretty amissing thing to be there. the king -- president trump was
sitting behind his desk and he had two of his advisers, secretary mnuchin and gary cohe you could tell he spoke freely and a long time and we were trying to get a sense of his economic policy. it was all about economic. we asked him first to start off with, what do you think of as trom economics. he gave an interesting answer, it's to do with self-respect as a country. and -- which was a kind of interesting place to start. then he launched into a long discussion on trade and that was, for me, a pretty striking part of the interview. >> do you think -- i mean having sat through the whole interview and started where you started at the end of it did you ever feel there was a coherent set of ideas that could be -- that defined trump economics? >> i think there are a series of ideas. i don't think it is a coherent
economic philosophy, if you will. it's not like reagan economics. it struck me much more as being -- we called it board room capitalism. it is a businessman's agenda and the president as you know has talked to a large number of businessmen since he's been in the white house and it's striking how few economists there are around there. so there are a lot of proposals designed to make doing business in america easier. deregulation, keen on the tax cut, but it doesn't really addp up as a whole plan in part because of the focus on economic nationalism. it struck me very much as a businessman's idea of what economic policy should be. >> you emphasize a businessman which he does and during the campaign. did you see any concrete evidence that he's learning on the job about the way a president relates to the economy, which is different than a ceo? >> he felt still very much like
the king businessman to me. it did not strike me -- it struck me he's -- he has very strong instincts and particularly this economic nationalist instinct is really powerful. he's felt this way for decades, right. he's long been arguing that america has a bad deal for its trade deals and thinks as trade as a zero sum game and that was a big part of it. his basic idea he's going to make it easier for businesses to do well in the u.s. but make sure that america is no the in his view a messed up by bad trade deals. it's a negotiator zero sum view of the world. >> when i read the transcript of the interview i could almost hear your jaws hitting the floor when president trump seemed to claim that he was the person who had invented the phrase "priming the pump." am i right to think that you may have been slightly taken aback by that claim? >> i was a little surprised when he suggested that this was a
phrase he had thought of a couple weeks ago, yes. >> yes. just in the last couple days. that phrase does date back to i think the 19th or 18th century, correct? >> it does. it does. but you know, it's -- it's probably for me, yes, it was surprising. there were many surprising things that in conversation but it certainly gave me a better sense, a sense of how i think the white house is operating and this sense that this is -- the economic policy or whatever anyone wants to call it, are driven by president trump, i think it's very clear that he is there and his court, his advisers are coming up with ideas he's saying yes or no to. >> it is a great interview. you did a great job. everyone should read it. thanks a ton for being on. go check that out in "the economist". much more "morning joe" in just a moment. what shall we call you? tom! name it tom!
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retriever. >> it was clear to comey ha trump was trying to get from him. his relationship from there deteriorated. >> you seem to have a cover-up without a crime. >> let's talk about rod rosenstein. 27 years had a stellar reputation. in one week donald trump has slimed him. >> that doesn't sound like rosenstein. i found him to be a very honorable man. now is the moment for him to step up. >> donald trump is not well. >> no. it's the rule of trump over the rule of law. >> president trump is dangerous. dangerous because he may be obstructing justice. >> you can feel the clothes starting to come off the emperor. i believe this is the beginning of the end. >> with flynn lying, he gets fired, yet the entire white house is lying to the country and that's the story we need to cover without joy, without jubilation, and without ratings scoring. >> that's just the liberals and the media trying to shout him down and that's where i think this resistance is coming from. >> i don't know what's going out in trump country.
sooner or later there's got to seep in some doubt about whether we can continue like this. >> amazing days. john heilemann, final thoughts? >> look, joe, this has been an extraordinary week in a presidency of many extraordinary weeks. i think we all think that there's some way in which this week could be a tipping point and now, on the friday of this week, one day early from when donald trump often sends incendiary tweets w i is saturday morning, now on friday morning sent the tweet we've been talking about that seems to be threatening former fbi director comey with a notion that maybe their conversations over dinner were taped. this is going to cause another day of extraordinary news. i believe all day long today and into the weekend. just mindblowing. >> extraordinary news, mind blowing, at a pace, let's go to stephanie ruhle. the story continues. stephanie. >> thanks so much, joe. good morning. i'm stephanie ruhle. we have breaking news to cover. president trump threatening james comey this morning after
the president's exclusive bombshell interview with nbc news. >> regardless of recommendation i was going to fire comey. >> changing his story, raising huge questions, this morning, donald trump defending his staff and threatening to cancel all press conferences. plus this -- was russia on his mind when he fired comey? >> when i decided to just do it, i said to myself, this russia thing with trump and russia, is a made up story. >> an exclusive new reporting that may contradict the president's story about his dinner with james comey. >> we had a very nice dinner and at that time he told me you are not under investigation. >> okay. it is those apparent contradictions that may have set president trump off this morning. check out his twitter. the president taking this dispute to a new level. this tweet just came out, james comey better hope there are no tapes of our conversations before he starts leaking